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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘intelligence’

‘Russian Hackers’ Attack Millions of JP Morgan Chase Bank Accounts

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Hackers working from deep inside Mother Russia – with at least some level of government approval, according to a report by The Washington Times – were behind a massive cyber attack on the United States-based JP Morgan Chase Bank this past July.

More than 83 million accounts were compromised – names, addresses, phone numbers and contact information — on more than 90 servers that were accessed. More than seven million small businesses were compromised.

According to a report in The New York Times, the hackers were able to steal “a list of every application and program deployed on standard JP Morgan computers that hackers can cross check with known, or new, vulnerabilities in each system in a search for a backdoor entry.”

All accounts that were compromised were disabled and employee passwords were reset. Customers were told they would not need to change their account information or passwords, and Chase Bank said it would not hold customers liable for unauthorized transactions, according to Associated Press.

Intelligence agencies, the Secret Service and the Treasury all worked together with JP Morgan Chase to lock out the hackers, but it took until August until they were able to do so, the Times reported.

Facelift for Mossad Intelligence Agency Website

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations (Israel’s Mossad international intelligence agency) has launched a new website to recruit new candidates.

The agency is looking for potentially qualified people to fill positions it does not usually publicize, including intelligence, cyber technology and other spots within the agency.

Both men and women are encouraged to apply for various roles. Mossad director Tamir Pardo said following the launch of the site, “We must continue to recruit the highest quality people so that the Mossad might continue to lead, defend and allow for the continued existence of the State of Israel. The Mossad’s qualitative human capital is the secret of our success. The Mossad will continue to operate wherever and whenever necessary in order to defend the security of the State of Israel.”

 

 

Report: US Sending Indirect Military Aid to Hezbollah

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

The United States has reportedly sent indirect military aid to the Hezbollah terrorist organization, according to information released in a New York Times interview with Hezbollah public relations liaison Mohammed Afif.

The aid, which came in the form of new weapons, was channeled via the Lebanese Army, which closely coordinates with the Hezbollah terrorist group, according to Afif. In addition, U.S. intelligence is being channeled to Hezbollah as well, according to Lebanese sources. This would explain how the terrorist organization was able to pinpoint its first UAV bombing so precisely against the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group, which is not associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group and which in fact currently is fighting against the organization. Al Qaeda has denounced ISIS as “too brutal.”

The assistance to Hezbollah, which appears on America’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, comes in stark contrast to the block placed by the Obama White House on a needed transfer to Israel of Hellfire missiles during this summer’s counter terror Operation Protective Shield in Gaza. The transfer of any weapons and other military hardware to Israel, even routine munitions requests, was temporarily blocked by the State Department and the White House, which required a double signature on any delivery. The hold was released following an intense protest against the action by Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle. However, any form of American military aid – once a ‘given’ by Israel’s “closest friend and ally” – continues to be scrutinized by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry; an unprecedented situation in relations between the two countries.

“We need to open up a new page with world media, with the Arabs and internationally,” Afif told NYT. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has referred to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a “monster.” He equated the battle with ISIS as “a battle of life and death no less important than fighting the Israeli enemy, as [its] actions and objectives only serve Israel.”

Afif, meanwhile, has blamed the United States for creating ISIS in the first place by supporting opposition forces in their fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Hezbollah supports with guerrilla fighters. “This beast you which you raised up, as in past cases, you find it’s dangerous for you,” he commented in the report.

While U.S. President Barack Obama has talked about starting air strikes against ISIS in Syria as well as in Iraq – where American attacks have been taking place for several weeks – he has yet to carry out the threat. Both Russia and Iran, which generously supports both Syria and Hezbollah, have warned the U.S. not to venture into Syrian air space without permission from Assad. Since the U.S. has been arming rebels to oppose him, such authorization is unlikely.

Israel Reminds US ‘Iran As Great a Threat as ISIS’

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz says that Iran is still a greater threat than the global Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror organization.

The terror group has spread its threat level to the borders around Iraq and Syria, and has taken over the Iraqi side of the sole border crossing with Jordan – an ominous sign – as well as two crossings with Syria, which is creating a growing security concern for Amman.

Asked in a radio interview whether Israel would help defend Jordan from ISIS, Steinitz said Sunday that Israel would certainly help the Hashemite Kingdom in its defense against the radical Islamist terrorists.

“Jordan is a strong state, but still, if Jordan were truly in danger from these jihadist extremists and asked for our assistance, Israel has a very clear interest in the existence of Jordan,” Steinitz said.

He added, however, that he believes the threat to the Hashemite Kingdom may have subsided, given the ability of Kurdish fighters to beat back the ISIS forces with the aid of U.S. air strikes in Iraq.

Steinitz acknowledged that the threat to the region from ISIS is real – but the threat to Israel and the rest of the world from Iran is far greater, he warned. ISIS, he said, “is a threat for a few years; Iranian nuclear weapons will be with us – if Iran becomes a nuclear power – for dozens of years.”

Steinitz recently met in Washington with American officials to discuss the upcoming nuclear talks with Iran, pointing out that while building a world coalition to fight ISIS is important, it is equally important not to forget the Iranian nuclear threat.

Israel Slams Claim of Spying on U.S.

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed a report by U.S.-based Newsweek magazine claiming Israel has been “spying” on America.

The foreign minister told listeners on Israel’s Voice of Israel government radio Wednesday morning, “First of all, these are malicious accusations. . . I would not agree to any spying on the United States, not in any form, directly or indirectly.”

Israeli Embassy spokesperson Aaron Sagui also flatly denied the charges, telling Newsweek, “Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period. We condemn the fact that such outrageous, false allegations are being directed against Israel.”

The report, published Tuesday by Newsweek, quoted anonymous senior intelligence officials in the United States, and Congressional staffers.

Written by journalist Jeff Stein, the report began with the question, “Whatever happened to honor among thieves? When the National Security Agency was caught eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, it was considered a rude way to treat a friend. Now U.S. intelligence officials are saying – albeit very quietly, behind closed doors on Capitol Hill – that our Israeli “friends” have gone too far with their spying operations here.”

Stein wrote the espionage had allegedly been revealed in recent visa waiver briefings, saying the spying came under cover of trade missions and joint defense technology contracts. The alleged primary target: “America’s industrial and technical secrets,” according to his report.

Last month a senior House aide also noted the U.S. intelligence community is concerned that adding Israel to the visa waiver program would make it easier for Israeli spies to enter the country, the CQ Roll Call news site reported.

Counter intelligence agents, wrote Stein, had called Israel’s “espionage activities in America… unrivaled and unseemly,” and said they went “far beyond activities by other close allies, such as Germany, France, the U.K. and Japan.” Unnamed Congressional staffers referred to testimony at the briefings as “very sobering … alarming … even terrifying … damaging.”

Of course, wrote Stein, the United States spies on Israel as well. He quoted a former top CIA operative who told him that Israel was “the last place you wanted to go on vacation” because of ‘heavy-handed Israeli surveillance.’

Israel’s foreign minister, however, said Wednesday morning that he heard no complaints about “spying” during a meeting with members of Congress on a visit to the United States last month. Mr. Liberman told listeners he believes the charges are the work of saboteurs trying to scotch relations between the two countries.

The U.S. visa waiver program enables travelers to the United States to enter the country without first having to obtain a visa. According to a statement by the Department of Homeland Security quoted by Newsweek, requirements for entry to the program include “enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the United States, timely reporting of lost and stolen passports, and the maintenance of high counter-terrorism, law enforcement, border control, aviation and document security standards.”

Israelis face a high rate of visa refusal by the U.S. due to the problem of young people entering the country and then staying past the expiration date of tourist visas in order to work illegally.

Another obstacle to Israel’s acceptance to the program is the U.S. government’s perception of alleged discrimination against Arab Americans in Israeli security protocols.

Can NATO Member Turkey Ever Be Trusted Again?

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Jewish Press has had the dubious honor of pointing the finger at Turkey’s chief intelligence officer Hakan Fidan and state flatly that his betrayal of 10 Mossad agents was the stuff that should get him something nice in his car in the morning. Yes, we don’t go for nice over here, but, as you’ll see, the rest of the world is coming around rather quickly to our position, and so, if I’m Hakan Fidan, I’d get me a bus pass.

An Eli Lake article in the Daily Beast has confirmations from U.S. officials of the David Ignatius initial Washington Post report. A CIA officer compared the loss to the betrayal of the Cambridge Five the network of Soviet moles (including the notorious Kim Philby), who provided invaluable intelligence to Moscow during the Cold War.

Danny Yatom, a former chief of Israel’s Mossad, told the Beast: “The fact those ten spies were burned by the Turks by purposely informing the Iranians is not only a despicable act, it is an act that brings the Turkish intelligence organization to a position where I assume no one will ever trust it again.”

Yatom said the Mossad has traditionally informed its Turkish counterparts about meetings with its spies on Turkish soil. He said if Turkey gave Iran any details about these meetings, it would compromise Israel’s intelligence operations against Iran.

Indeed, in April, 2012, the Tehran Times announced: “Iran has foiled Israeli terrorist plots.”

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday announcing that it recently foiled several Israeli terrorist plots.

The statement was issued to provide more details about recent operations by Iranian intelligence forces that led to the arrest of 15 Mossad-linked spies and terrorists.

On April 10 [2012], the Intelligence Ministry announced that key members of an Israeli terrorist network had been identified and arrested in Iran.

Presumably, the blood of those 15 agents is on Hakan Fidan’s hands.

Omri Ceren, of The Israel Project, wrote today: “Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that if the story is true, then Turkey’s intel chief Hakan Fidan was just ‘doing his job’ by ‘not letting other intelligence agencies operate in Turkey.’ That might be surprising to Turkey’s NATO allies, not to mention any country that does counterterror work with Ankara.”

And that is a problem well beyond the anger and betrayal anyone in the Mossad might be feeling today. Turkey has the largest army of all the European NATO members and it plays a central role in the alliance. Which means that if you’re a senior security official in any of NATO’s member countries, you’ll start reviewing your exchanges with the Turks. Remember, Turkey serves as a passageway not only for spies going into Iran, but also for terrorists coming out of Iran. If you can’t now trust the Turks to monitor that traffic reliably; if, in fact, you have to worry about them actually aiding and abetting those terrorists – what do you do?

This is far from being an Israel-only problem. I mentioned in an earlier article the similarity between Hakan Fidan’s despicable act and those Afghan soldiers who shoot their American fellows on patrol. If Turkey does not find a meaningful way of convincing its NATO allies that it is trustworthy—it could bring on a sea change in Turkey’s already eroding relationship with the West.

Is Erdoğan’s Turkey turning its back on its European aspirations, in search of a safe and familiar role as the Muslim world’s eternal second fiddle?

Al Qaeda Quickly Constructing Main Mideast Base in Syria

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

Al Qaeda is quickly constructing its main regional Middle East base in Syria, from where it plans to export terrorism and Islamic radicalism to neighboring states, then to the West, a new report released by an Israeli security research institute warned.

The jihadis later aspire, according to the report, to turn “Greater Syria” — an old geographic term encompassing Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories — into an Islamic caliphate.

The exhaustive study took a year to compile, according to researchers at the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which released it.

The Center itself is a part of the Israeli Intelligence and Heritage Commemoration Center, founded in the 1980s by leading members of the Israeli intelligence community.

The report identified the Al Nusra Front as Al Qaeda’s official arm in Syria; they added that the organization is quickly entrenching itself in the north and east of Syria, where the Assad regime’s rule has collapsed.

According to Dr. Reuven Erlich, the head of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the Al Nusra Front is entrenching itself in Syria at a rate several times faster than the time it took Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to become a serious international terrorist presence.

Erlich, who served in several posts in IDF Military Intelligence, also cautioned that Syria’s location in the heart of the Middle East, its proximity to Europe, and its border with Israel mean that geopolitically, the jihadi threat from Syria is more central than the one from Afghanistan or Pakistan.

He compared Al Nusra’s activities in Syria today to the incubation period of a virus, before it begins spreading and infecting other hosts. Later, Erlich warned, the plague of jihad will spread outwards from Syria to the region, then go on to threaten global security.

The researchers who composed the report assessed the chances of Al Nusra realizing its goal of building a caliphate as low, due to Syria’s diverse sectarian, ethnic, and religious population, and strong tradition of secular Arab nationalism.

Nevertheless, they said, the group is on course to become one of the most prominent rebel entities, and will play a key role in shaping a post-Assad Syria, while using its growing presence as a springboard to launch international terrorist attacks.

At the moment, Al Nusra’s most urgent goal is toppling President Assad; its members are therefore not yet focusing on enforcing Shari’a law in Syria. They show a pragmatic willingness to work with other rebel organizations, including the main Free Syrian Army. But once the Assad regime falls, a violent campaign by jihadis might begin to cement their control over any new government formed by rebels in Damascus.

A second jihadi organization operates in Syria, the researchers said, called the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, formed by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, though Al Nusra is the only one to have received official recognition by Al Qaeda’s central leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, in June this year.

“The two branches together have an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 operatives in our assessment, and the number is growing,” the report stated.

Erlich said the influence of the group is out of proportion to its numbers, due its operational capabilities and influence on the population.

The Al Nusra Front is led Abu Muhammad al-Julani, who possibly hails from the Syrian Golan, and rules over a network of fighters and local subordinates in Syria’s districts.

He is a veteran of jihadist battles against US forces in Iraq, and a former follower of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who set up Al Qaeda in Iraq in the previous decade.

Rank and file members of the group are a mix of Syrians and foreign volunteers from the Arab and Muslim world, the report said, adding that foreign volunteers number in the thousands. Additionally, between 500 and 600 European Muslim volunteers are in the organization, mainly hailing from the UK and France. They are expected, after returning from the battlefields, to spread jihad in their home countries, the report said.

The Al Nusra Front’s most senior body is called the Consulting Council of Jihad Fighters. Its leadership is made up of staff dealing with military operations, fundraising, weapons acquisitions and smuggling, religious affairs and public relations. Fighting units are usually called battalions or companies.

The report mapped out the Al Nusra Front’s presence in Syria, noting that it was strongest in the north and east, where the Assad regime has collapsed. In these areas, called “liberated zones” by the jihadis, Al Nusra and affiliated groups provide public services, maintain health, legal, and policing systems, and distribute food, clothing and blankets.

In some places, residents have complained about a strict code of Shari’a-based conduct being enforced.

According to the report, the group is weakest on the Mediterranean coast, where the minority Alawite population — of which the ruling Assad regime is mostly composed — is located.

Most of Al Nusra’s attacks are focused on greater Damascus and on northern and eastern Syria, in places such as Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Idlib and Deir al-Zor. Its actions are guerrilla-terrorist campaigns against the regime’s bases, facilities and individuals.

Tactics include suicide car bombings, roadside bombs, suicide bombers on foot, and firing on bases and airfields with light arms and mortars. Security checkpoints are a frequent target.

“Suicide bombings are a signature brand” of Al Nusra and are operationally effective, but have resulted in negative public relations among other Syrian rebels, said the report.

The Al Nusra Front plans to attack Israel from the Syrian Golan, according to an assessment that appeared in the report. It “can be expected to establish an operative terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights, a continuation of military infrastructure it is currently constructing in Deraa,” the southwestern city where the anti-Assad uprising began in 2011.

“In our assessment, Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist organizations may integrate themselves into terrorist attacks from the Golan Heights despite the fundamental ideological differences between them,” it added.

Al Nusra can also be expected to link up with fellow jihadis who follow Al Qaeda’s ideology in neighboring Lebanon, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Gaza Strip.

Pro-Western Arab states are on the target list too, the report said, adding that Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, all of which support the rebels, might be targeted by Al Nusra in the form of subversive, radical Islamists entering them and setting up terrorist cells.

In northern Syria, Al Nusra and its allies have seized key national resources such as oil and gas fields, oil pipelines, dams, power plants and grain silos.

These sites are now operated by jihadis, who sometimes sell oil and gas to the Assad regime for profit, enabling the organization to pay its operatives a monthly salary, purchase more weapons, and run assistance programs in “liberated areas.”

As Al Nusra fighters raid Syrian weapons depots, the fear remains, the report stated, that “in the absence of the considerations of restraint that influence other terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist organizations,” they could obtain chemical and biological weapons, and use them in terrorist attacks.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/al-qaeda-quickly-constructing-main-mideast-base-in-syria/2013/10/01/

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